John Cullerton

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John Cullerton

b. Oct. 28, 1948

Illinois, State Senator (1991-)
President of the Senate (2009-)
Illinois, State Representative (1979-1991)
Illinois, 5th District Democratic State Central Committeeman (2014-)

An assistant state's attorney, and then an attorney in private practice, John Cullerton was a member of then-Ald. Bernie Hansen's 44th Ward Organization when he first ran for State Representative in 1979. Earning a reputation as a progressive who pressed for gun control and consumer protection laws, Cullerton ran into a buzzsaw in when he first ran for State Senate in 1992. He'd already won appointment to the seat vacated by Dawn Clark Netsch when she moved up from State Senate to Illinois Comptroller in 1991, by-passing then-43rd Ward Democratic Committeeman Ann Stepan. But in 1992, William Marovitz, husband of Playboy, Inc. heir Christie Hefner, mounted a well-funded campaign for the seat, almost beating Cullerton.

Still a young State Senator, Cullerton jumped into the five-way 1994 Democratic primary against Cong. Dan Rostenkowski, who had been weakened by a scandal involving use of U.S. House administrative funds. Cullerton came in a distant third in the primary, while Rostenkowski went on to a surprise defeat in the general to Republican Michael Flannigan.

Cullerton skipped the opportunity to run against Flannigan for Congress in 1994, dedicating himself to climbing the ranks of the State Senate.

His decision ultimately paid off, leading him to election as Senate President. Cullerton long waited in the wings, serving as previous President Emil Jones, Jr.'s Majority Leader. Jones retirement, which seemed like a slow walk to many observers, included a strong effort by Jones to ensure Cullerton's election as President.

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